'The best is yet to come from me' - promises Derry City newboy Sadou Diallo
SADOU DIALLO has been in Derry less than a month but the versatile midfielder needed just 90 minutes to endear himself to Derry City fans.
Ruaidhri Higgins has tipped Diallo to shine in the League of Ireland and follow in the footsteps of his former Man City Academy teammate and good friend, Will Patching.
And based on his first three competitive matches for the Candy Stripes, and in particular his dominant individual performance against Dundalk at Oriel Park last Friday night, Derry has got themselves a real talent in the midfield engine room.
The 23 year-old made his debut and impressed in the 2-1 against Finn Harps in Ballybofey and played in the 7-1 FAI Cup drubbing of Oliver Bond. The top of the table clash with Dundalk at Oriel Park was the acid test and he passed with flying colours.
He almost chipped in with his first assist for his new club when sending Joe Thomson through on goal with a delightful first time pass from centre midfield but the Scotsman missed his chance to double Derry’s advantage on that occasion.
It was his all round game which earned the plaudits from pundits and fans alike as he got Derry ticking and showed different facets to his game.
“Every game is important. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cup game or a friendly. I just have to perform and move on to the next one,” he explains.
“Out of the four games I’ve played, that (Dundalk) was the toughest. They’re a good side obviously and that’s why they’re up there in the league but it was frustrating to concede the way we did in the end. We should’ve got two or three goals and won the game.”
The ex-Wolves man doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a defensive midfielder and claims he’s capable of adapting his game and fulfilling whatever role the game requires as it plays out.
“That’s what I said when I came here,” he said. “I’m a midfielder and don’t want to say I’m a defensive one or an attacking midfielder. I just want to do what the game requires, whether that’s tackling, getting forward shooting or adding an assist - anything the game requires,” he repeated.
Diallo certainly showed he’s more than adept for that kind of all-action style role in the middle of the park. He faded somewhat in the second half and it was no coincidence then that Dundalk began to get a grip in midfield and put Derry under sustained pressure before Pat Hoban eventually equalised in stoppage time.
Diallo hasn’t completed a full pre-season this year and he’s had to quickly get up to speed on his match fitness but he insists Derry fans have yet to see the best of him.
“I’ve had no real time to train and get a feel for it. You have to go straight into the games which I don’t mind. In fact, personally I prefer that instead of training so it’s been good. I think I settled in pretty quickly,” he added.
“I came on the Friday and I played on the Sunday so I got into it very quickly. We got a good result and from then on it’s been good.”
Diallo has noticed the build-up to tonight’s clash with leaders Shamrock Rovers has been slightly different than usual and he’s relishing the chance to test himself against the champions.
After getting to know his teammates better and getting a better understanding of the league in recent weeks, he’s certain Derry City belong at the top end of the table.
“I’m noticing a lot of media around so you can sense it’s a big game but I like playing in these kinds of games. You get to show people what you’re about. The fans have taken to me but they’ve not seen the best of me yet I feel. So hopefully on Friday I can show that.
“Definitely this team should be challenging at the top. There’s 12 games left but you have to take it one at a time and not look too far ahead but I definitely think we’re good enough to be right up there and compete, but we look forward to Friday and take it from there.”